The RPTC – heads in the clouds but still on task

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

Congratulations need to go out in a big way to the River Parishes Tourist Commission.

Did you see the award they won in the picture we ran in our paper this past Wednesday?

The local group won the number one award at the annual Louisiana Tourism Promotion Association Summit, where they were named the best mid-sized convention and visitors bureau in the state of Louisiana.

Executive Director Jesse Lambert and Chairman Paul Aucoin of the RPTC were having trouble keeping their feet on the ground after finding out about the award, and you can hardly blame them.

Since I’ve been in this area and working mainly with Jesse, who is the out-front spokesperson for the group, it has always been obvious how professionally they are running our local outfit, and more importantly, how hard they are working to market the River Region to help boost our tourism industry.

This award was won by judging from an out-of-state panel, so you know there was no favoritism in any way, and it was clearly by looking at the accomplishments of each organization, which highlights a lot of the marketing plans put forth by each group.

I’ve seen first hand some of the high class events Jesse and her organization have put on in the past year or so as they are helping tourism to bounce back here after Katrina.

The River Parishes Tourist Commission markets nine historic plantations in the region, as well as the famous swamp tour, and of course you can’t forget the amazing list of restaurants and other sight-seeing treats you have in our historic region.

Once again, congrats you guys!

Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Joel Chaisson was probably feeling like some kind of big shot this past week.

Chaisson was speaking on Capitol Hill, as one of the invitees to address the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, on behalf of our Louisiana ports.

He was also joined by Executive Director Joseph Accardo of the Ports of Louisiana, who used to head our local Port of South Louisiana.

Both men were speaking against a sweeping bill from California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), who is trying to force water-going vessels coming into the ports around the country to use a more expensive fuel, which she claims will be more environmentally friendly.

Boxer’s bill claims there is too much sulphur being admitted into the atmosphere by these large tankers and the like, which come in and out of ports around the country.

Chaisson told me that he is as interested as the next guy to keep emissions down, but this bill is not fair to all areas of the country since “there is a big difference in coming into a port from right off the ocean, or just coming up the Mississippi to ours.”

Boxer wants boats to switch to a different fuel that won’t have as much sulphur emissions, but Chaisson wants the bill changed so different areas of the country have different regulations.

In a nutshell, if the bill passes in its present form, it will add such a huge cost to shipping expenses that you know those expenses will be passed down to the consumer in practically every commodity you can think of.

Hope things went well, judge.

Finally got to meet Pat McTopy, our new chief administrative officer to new Parish President Bill Hubbard.

I had heard only good things about Pat, and what a great public official he was in serving in that position under Arnold Labat.

Talking to Pat, I got the sense of a guy who is determined to help run our parish government with the streamlined efficiency Hubbard has promised, and that certainly makes him a good fit.

From this corner, I’m all for that. Welcome aboard Pat.

If you are looking for a special Sunday service to attend next week, mark your calendars for the Faith Healing and Deliverance Ministries Church on Marie Street in LaPlace for Feb. 24.

Apostle Dr. Joyce H. Brown will celebrate 40 years of service in the ministry, and fourth year of pastoring at Faith Healing.

Special guest for the 1 p.m. service will be Pastor Dr. Delores H. Millet of Heaven’s Kingdom Builders church in LaPlace.

Anyone who has done God’s work for 40 years deserves a special crown in heaven, so for that Dr. Brown, good job!

For more information, call 504-232-4417.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at